Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yelptucky Derby

by Meghann on April 27, 2013

Last night I had the honor of attending the first – hopefully annual? – Yelptucky Derby.

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Can you believe I’ve never been to a Kentucky Derby party before? This was my first!

I’ve been a bad Yelper lately. Thanks to a crazy start to 2013 (wedding, honeymoon, new job… you know, the usual excuses) I haven’t been able to attend a Yelp event since last December! Yikes! I missed my Yelp buddies and was excited to finally have an event I knew I could attend!

The Yelptucky Derby wasn’t your average Yelp Elite event. It was actually an annual Yelp party where ALL Yelpers were welcomed – no Yelp Elite status required! It was also not your typical one-host event. The Yelptucky Derby was a celebration of multiple restaurants around the Tampa Bay area. Held at the Winthrop Barn Theatre in Riverview (fun fact: I’d never been to Riverview before last night either) there were over a dozen vendors in attendance, all with enough food to feed an army.

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I arrived a little on the early side and had a surprise waiting at check-in.

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I was voted Yelp Tampa Bay’s Best Writer in the 2012 Best of Yelp awards last year. This was a HUGE honor since the Best of Yelp awards are voted on by fellow Yelpers! This baby is going up in my office!

And in true Meghann fashion, I headed straight for the Enjoi Sweets & Co food truck by check-in.

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Best to get in before the lines, right?

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First nibble of the night – a sugar cookie!

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It was sweet, soft, and chewy. I gave it two thumbs up!

Next I was greeted by the welcoming committee (courtesy of Busch Gardens)…

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…before heading to the barn full of food and drinks.

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I was one of the first inside so I thankfully avoided the major crowds that took over later in the evening. I grabbed my one and only drink ( a glass of red wine) before the line for the bar wrapped around the building. There were over a dozen stations for food, but only one bar and the line got long. People like their drinks!

The food! Oh, the food! There was SO MUCH food! I tried to taste a little of everything, but I could only eat so much before I started feeling stuffed.

Some highlights of the evening included:

Sushi from Hula Bay

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Dark chocolate pecan toffee from Toffee To Go

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Sausage bites from Wimauma,

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Black eyed pea salad, pimento spread, and mint tea from the Corner Store (and a goodie bag with dried rosemary and chocolate almonds!)

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Burger sliders from Green Iguana

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Roasted salmon, wilted arugula, and corn pudding from Fred’s Market (my favorite dish of the evening!).

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Balsamic Berries from Pelagia Trattoria

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Strawberry cookies and local fruit from Parkesdale Farms

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That doesn’t even cover all of it! It was great to have so many local restaurants all in one place. Some local staples I hadn’t had the chance to try yet (Hula Bay, Green Iguana, etc.) and some I’d never even heard of (Fred’s Market, Wimuama, etc.). I left happy and full.

Since I headed straight to the event from a work thing in St. Pete I was attending solo. Luckily I wasn’t solo for long, the cool thing about Yelp events is you’re guaranteed to always run into a few people you know. I spent the majority of the evening hanging out with the lovely Megan and Beka.

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(you know I can never turn down a good photo booth!)

And how great is Beka’s necklace?! I want!

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I also saw Caroline and Genna – it was a TBLB reunion!

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I had a BLAST at Yelptucky Derby! I thought the Yelp team did a great job bringing together a ton of great vendors, as well as providing great entertainment and a fun theme. I didn’t have a big hat, but I was rockin’ a floral print in honor of the derby! I missed my Yelp friends and can’t wait to be back for another event in the near future!

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